A new report has found that Australia’s co-operation with Sri Lanka to prevent would-be-refugees from seeking protection is riddled with human rights risks and should be stopped immediately.
The report, Can’t flee, can’t stay: Australia’s interception and return of Sri Lankan asylum seekers, which is based on interviews with government officials, information obtained through freedom of information requests and statements from the public record, reveals a deeply flawed suite of policy measures and practices.
The Human Rights Law Centre’s Director of Advocacy and Research and the report’s author, Emily Howie, said Australia’s efforts at ‘stopping boats’ are jeopardising the ability of Sri Lankans at risk of persecution to gain access to safety and asylum. Ms Howie said that based on government data, 50 to 90% of the people who are intercepted by Sri Lankan authorities are likely to be asylum seekers.
The report also recommends that Australia conduct due diligence on Australian border protection partners to make sure that Australia is not training and working directly with individuals or units in the Sri Lankan military or police against whom there are credible allegations of serious human rights abuses, war crimes or crimes against humanity.